Hitting 1,000-point milestone a dream come true for Thomas Jefferson’s Graci Fairman

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Sunday, January 23, 2022 | 11:01 AM


It was a much-anticipated night at Thomas Jefferson.

TJ hoopster Graci Fairman eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for career scoring Jan. 7 during her team’s 49-23 section win at home against Uniontown.

The 5-foot-5 senior point guard connected on a trey from the corner early in the third quarter to become the eighth player to reach 1,000 career points in the TJ girls basketball program, joining Karri Miller (1989), Kelli Miller (1989), Nikki Presto (2006), Alexis Yanief (2014), Marina Petruzzi (2018), Jenna Clark (2019) and Alyssa DeAngelo (2020).

“I am so proud of her,” said Lisa Fairman, Graci’s mother and coach. “Ever since she was a little kid, she has always had a love for basketball and I have seen how hard she has worked. For her being able to achieve this goal with her teammates is a dream come true.”

Coach Fairman, a TJ graduate, began coaching at her alma mater in 2018-19 during Graci’s freshman season.

“It truly has been a blessing being able to coach Graci the last four years,” Lisa said. “We both have a strong passion for basketball and being able share in her high school career is something I will always remember and be thankful for.”

Graci Fairman, a fourth-year starter who is averaging 21 points per game, finished with 26 points — including 20 in the first half — with four triples against Uniontown.

She plans to continue her basketball career at Wheeling University, an NCAA Division II college and Mountain East Conference member.

The 17-year-old Fairman has a 4.0 GPA and plans to major in elementary education with a minor in special education.

Also a talented softball player at TJ, Fairman participated in a candid question-and-answer feature after achieving her coveted career milestone:

What are your thoughts on eclipsing 1,000 points for your career?

This has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid.

Did you feel a little extra pressure (knowing that you could reach the career milestone) going into the Uniontown game? How about at the start of the second half?

Going into the game, I focused on just playing my game to help my team win and let everything else fall into place. At halftime, when I found out I was one point away, I started to get nervous and excited, but my team supported me and I knew they would help me achieve this goal.

Were you able to celebrate the achievement after the game?

We had a big celebration in the locker room including throwing water around and listening to music. I am very thankful that my family was in the stands and I got to celebrate this achievement with them.

What is the strongest part of your game?

I take pride in my defense as well as my leadership ability on the floor.

Do you have a favorite area of the court to take a shot?

I do not, although I find myself taking most of my shots from the top of the key.

Who has been the biggest influence in your basketball career?

I would have to say my family, as well as my mom. Being the youngest of five siblings, I was always pushed beyond my limits to be the best I can be. My mom has coached me all my life and has taught me everything I know.

What are your thoughts about being coached by your mom at TJ the past four years?

I’ve loved being coached by my mom. She goes above and beyond to make sure all of us are prepared and ready to play in every game.

What are your thoughts on your basketball career at TJ?

I’ve absolutely loved my career. I have created unforgettable bonds with my teammates, and I have made some of the best memories, including competing in playoff games as well as going to the WPIAL finals my freshman year. I will never forget my high school career and who I shared it with. I feel I left my mark at TJ.

What are you going to miss the most about playing basketball at TJ?

I am going to miss my teammates the most. They are the core of what made my high school career so memorable.

Along with basketball and softball, do you participate in other extracurricular activities at TJ?

I joined the soccer team and was a goalie my senior year.

What led you to choosing Wheeling to continue your basketball career?

I love the coach and the team and family atmosphere.

Did you consider going to any other colleges?

Yes, but I found my home at Wheeling University. I can’t wait to become a Cardinal.

What are your early expectations for your freshman year at Wheeling?

I plan on working hard every day I step on the court. I plan on learning the system and finding my way to contribute and help benefit the team.

You’ve undoubtedly spent a lot of time in gyms throughout your career. When did you start playing basketball? And do you consider yourself a “gym rat?”

My career started in first grade when I joined a program called “Little Dribblers.” From then, a ball never left my hand. I have spent countless amounts of extra time in the gym working on new skills to improve my game. I am definitely a gym rat.

If you could pick anyone, who are three people you wish you could have dinner with?

Bria Holmes, a professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Sparks and a former player from West Virginia University. Carrie Underwood, my favorite country artist. And coach Mike Carey from WVU. I grew up watching (WVU) play and loved going to games.

Is there any particular reason why you wear uniform No. 21?

It is a family number. My oldest brother (Eric) picked it out after the baseball player Roberto Clemente and we all followed him.

Are the yellow hi-tops new this season? If so, what is the reason for wearing them?

Look good, feel good, play good. That’s all I have to say.

Now, on the lighter side. Do you have any hobbies?

I enjoy outdoor activities including biking, hiking, swimming, fishing and any other outdoor activities.

Who is your favorite teacher?

After joining a club called Best Buddies, my favorite teacher is the school’s special education teacher, Mrs. (Emily) Leininger, who has influenced me to go into education as well as the field of special education.

What is your favorite all-time movie?

The Lion King

What is your favorite TV show?

One Tree Hill

What is your favorite food?

Chicken alfredo pasta

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